Why Do I Suddenly Have Cloudy Vision in One Eye?

Cloudy vision, different from blurry vision, is like looking through a film

You can have cloudy vision in one eye or both eyes. You may have cloudy vision suddenly when you wake up or it can come and go. It can make it seem like you’re looking through a haze.

This article describes both common and rare causes of cloudy vision and how they are treated. It also explains when cloudy vision in one eye is most likely to be a minor problem like eye strain versus a more serious condition, such as macular degeneration.

A close up of a person's eye that looks cloudy (What to Know About Cloudy Vision)

Verywell / Nez Riaz

Common Causes of Sudden Cloudy Vision

There are different conditions, both common and rare, that can cause cloudy vision. Many of them are not a reason to worry, but some can be serious. Here's what to know about conditions that can cause cloudy vision in one eye. 


Eye floaters are one of the most common causes of both cloudy and blurry vision. Floaters look like squiggly lines, blobs, or other shapes moving across your line of vision.

In most cases, floaters are due to changes in the eye that come with aging. These are nothing to worry about and will go away on their own.

However, if many floaters appear suddenly, or they cause central or peripheral (side) vision loss, you need to see a healthcare provider to be evaluated for causes such as a torn retina.

Injury, Infection, or Inflammation

Injuries or infections of the eye can also cause cloudy vision, including:


As people get older, protein in the eye breaks down and clumps together. The clumps look like cloudy spots on the lens of the eye. These spots are called cataracts.

If you have mild cataracts, you may not have symptoms at first. But eventually, cloudy vision—the most recognizable sign of the condition—occurs. Your eye may also look cloudy to others.

Other symptoms of cataracts include:

  • Colors that look faded
  • Poor vision at night
  • Lamps, sunlight, or headlights that seem too bright
  • Halos appearing around lights
  • Double vision
  • Frequently having to change the prescription for your glasses

Rare Causes of Sudden Cloudy Vision

There are also some rare but potentially serious causes of cloudy vision you should know about.

Fuch's Dystropy

Fuchs’ dystrophy is a disease that affects the clear dome that covers the eye (cornea). It occurs when cells in the inner corneal layer die off. This results in fluid building up on the cornea, which blurs or clouds a person's vision.

There are two stages of Fuchs' dystrophy. In the first stage, you may not have any symptoms. One of the first symptoms is having cloudy vision when you first wake up in the morning.

Symptoms of the second stage of Fuchs’ dystrophy do not go away over the course of the day and can include:

  • A sandy or gritty feeling in your eyes
  • Being extra sensitive to bright light
  • Eye problems that get worse in humid areas
  • Very blurry or hazy vision from scarring at the center of the cornea

Macular Degeneration

Age-related macular degeneration occurs when the macula at the back of the eye starts to break down. Symptoms of the condition may include:

  • Cloudy vision
  • Blurry vision
  • Blank or dark spots in your field of vision
  • The appearance of waves or curves in straight lines

Diabetic Retinopathy

Diabetic retinopathy is an eye condition that occurs when diabetes damages blood vessels in the retina, which is located at the back of the eye. It can cause cloudy vision or vision loss.

While the early stages of diabetic retinopathy typically do not have noticeable symptoms, later stages can cause changes in vision or seeing dark, floating spots or streaks that look like cobwebs.


A stroke is bleeding in your brain. You can also have a stroke in your eye. This kind of stroke happens when there is not enough blood getting to your optic nerve.

Sudden changes to your vision can be a sign of a stroke or an eye stroke. Depending on where the bleeding is, you may have blurry or cloudy vision, or lose your vision altogether.

People with an eye stroke commonly wake up in the morning with sudden vision changes in one eye, but no pain. They may wake up and not be able to see out of one eye at all. 

F.A.S.T Warning Signs for a Stroke

Vision changes can be one of the first signs of a stroke, but there are other warning signs you should know. Learn the acronym F.A.S.T. to help recognize a stroke and get care as soon as possible:

  • Facial drooping (usually on one side)
  • Arm weakness (usually on one side)
  • Speech difficulty
  • Time to call 911

Brain Tumor

If a brain tumor is in the parts of your brain that help you see or is putting pressure on the nerves in your eyes, it can cause vision changes.

A brain tumor can cause blurry or cloudy vision, “seeing double,” or complete vision loss. 

Sometimes, the tumor starts in the brain. Other times, it’s from cancer in another part of the body that has spread (metastasized). 

Vision changes are not usually the only signs of a brain tumor. People often have headaches, dizziness, and changes to their other senses (like speech), too. 

What Is Cloudy Vision in One Eye Like?

Though they may sound similar, there is a difference between "cloudy" and "blurry" vision.

  • Cloudy vision feels like you're looking at everything through a fog or a haze.
  • Blurry vision means that what you're seeing is out of focus.

In addition to feeling like you're looking through a dirty or foggy window, cloudy vision can also involve:

  • Seeing faded colors or halos around lights
  • Trouble seeing at night

When to See a Healthcare Provider

It's a good idea to see a healthcare provider any time there are issues with your vision. This includes cloudy vision in one or both eyes, as well as:

  • Trouble seeing objects in your peripheral vision
  • Difficulty seeing at night or when reading
  • A gradual loss of the sharpness of your vision
  • Difficulty telling colors apart
  • Blurred vision when trying to view objects near or far
  • Diabetes or a family history of diabetes
  • Eye itching or discharge
  • Vision changes that seem related to medication (however, do not stop or change a medication without talking to your healthcare provider)

You should have a complete eye exam by an eye specialist (optometrist or ophthalmologist).

When to Go to the ER

Sudden cloudy vision in one or both eyes can be a sign of a problem that requires emergency medical treatment. Signs that you need to get medical help right away include:

  • Partial or complete blindness in one or both eyes (even if it is only temporary)
  • Double vision (even if it is temporary)
  • A sensation of a shade being pulled over your eyes or a curtain being drawn from the side, above, or below
  • Blind spots, halos around lights, or areas of distorted vision that appear suddenly
  • Sudden blurred vision with eye pain, particularly if the eye is also red and painful

Treatment for Cloudy Vision

The treatments for cloudy vision in one or both eyes depending on what is causing it.

  • Eye irritation or strain: You can often manage minor causes of cloudy vision at home. For example, giving your eyes a rest from screens or reading if you have eye strain, using warm compresses to help soothe irritation, and using over-the-counter eye drops if you have dry eyes.
  • Eye infections: Minor eye infections are typically treated with prescription topical or oral medications.
  • Fuchs' dystrophy: There is no cure for the condition. Depending on the severity, the condition can be treated with eye drops or a corneal transplant.
  • Macular degeneration: There is no cure but it can be treated with nutritional supplements, a medication that stops the growth of blood vessels in the eye (antivascular endothelial growth factor), and photodynamic therapy.
  • Diabetic retinopathy: This condition can be treated with eye injections, laser surgery, or other types of eye surgery.
  • Cataracts: Surgery is the only treatment for the condition.


Cloudy vision in one or both eyes can be from something simple like eye irritation, an infection, or floaters. Cataracts, which cause the vision to become cloudy with age, are another common cause and can be treated with minor surgery. More serious causes of cloudy vision include macular degeneration, diabetes, and rare problems like a stroke. 

If you notice that your vision is cloudy, take note of when it started and how long you've been experiencing it and tell your provider. If you have cloudy vision and other “red flag” signs and symptoms of a more serious condition, don’t wait to get medical attention.

12 Sources
Verywell Health uses only high-quality sources, including peer-reviewed studies, to support the facts within our articles. Read our editorial process to learn more about how we fact-check and keep our content accurate, reliable, and trustworthy.
  1. National Eye Institute. Floaters.

  2. American Academy of Ophthalmology. What is Fuchs’ dystrophy?

  3. Cleveland Clinic. Age-related macular degeneration: symptoms & treatment.

  4. National Eye Institute. Diabetic retinopathy.

  5. Penn Medicine. Eye stroke.

  6. American Stroke Association. Let's talk about stroke and vision changes.

  7. American Stroke Association. Stroke symptoms.

  8. Moffitt Cancer Center. Can brain tumors affect your vision?.

  9. MedlinePlus. Vision problems.

  10. American Academy of Ophthalmology. Fuchs’ dystrophy treatment.

  11. Cleveland Clinic. Age-related macular degeneration management and treatment.

  12. National Eye Institute. Cataracts.

By Elizabeth Yuko, PhD
Elizabeth Yuko, PhD, is a bioethicist and journalist, as well as an adjunct professor of ethics at Dublin City University. She has written for publications including The New York Times, The Washington Post, The Atlantic, Rolling Stone, and more.